Kayaking Independent River

The view from my kayak yesterday morning on Independent River and Lake Bellaire.

The point of the boat peels through the water. I skim the surface, my paddle sprinkling me with river water, then lake water, and I can’t help but get wet because I am so close to the surface.

The water draws me. To dive into its depths, to sit beside it and watch in awe, to ride on its surface, to breathe in its intoxicating scent. I love to sail, but I have not mastered the details of the boat. I don’t like motor boats because the noise obscures the glory of the water itself.

I love to kayak.

Katherine in her kayak

In a kayak, a small compact boat in the exact proportions, I am on the water’s surface as close as if to immerse, but still riding along on it, with the current, part of it.

Yesterday, before our Writing + Yoga Retreat started, Katherine and I rented kayaks and coasted down the Independent River into Lake Bellaire. We passed summer homes and year-round homes with pontoons docked and asleep like the people. A water weasel skimmed the surface after diving in from a dock.

Two deer rested in the grass. Birds and insects flitted above and around, near and under and over.

The water was not deep. In some parts, we almost grounded the boats it was so shallow. In other parts, the depths were manageable, giving us a view to the sandy bottom.

Our Writing + Yoga Retreat began with yoga to get the energy, and creativity, flowing.

In several areas of the lake, reeds stood tall, creating a meadow in the water. I was exhilarated by being a part of it all, by drinking in the fresh air and the morning silence and the hard work of my own arms, my own body, to get me from one point to another and back up the river, against the current, in constant motion, knowing that by my own strength, I would get where I wanted to go. Where I needed to go.

Writing followed yoga, with a two-part exercise to try to explain Who We Are. Not jobs or relationships. At the core.

And then the retreat began.

We started in yoga to loosen up the energy and get everything flowing. Then we sat around a collection of tables to write about who we are.

Not the workplace definitions or the party small-talk this-is-who-I-am. Taking all of the jobs and the relationships and the attachments away, who we truly are at the core.

And people began to open up in magnificent ways, on course to discover their voice and inspire the world with it.

We write because we have to write. We must write. There is no other option. Whether anyone reads what I write or not, I must put pen to paper, hands to keyboard, weave words into combinations that express what I am thinking feeling knowing.

This morning, half of our group gathered at 4 a.m. for sadhana.

I can’t be afraid of being judged for who I am or what I have to say. I just put ME out there in the world and hope that for someone, or perhaps for many, that is enough to change something forever.

Who are you, really? Do you even know?

And if you do, do you think you would share the authentic person with others? Or would you keep it in a box, afraid of what someone would say or think or do?

When we are on our path, there is always peace. Truth leads to bliss.

Yesterday, I encountered a friend at this resort as a sheer surprise. He’s here for a cousin’s wedding; I’m here to lead a writing and yoga retreat. We hugged, I hugged his wife, invited them to morning yoga.

We have talked of working together, my team to help his nonprofit on public relations, to focus their message and grow their reach. The holdup: budget. No matter, I said, we will find a way.

Not because I am desperate for work. God knows I am not. In fact, we may be close to full with commitments!

But because it is the right thing to do, to find a way to help people who help others. When there is good in this world, we must come together to create more good. And when we do that out of honesty and sincerity, everyone wins, there is always enough.

The view this morning after we finished sadhana. One of the main reasons to wake early is to truly immerse in the peace of the beautiful world.

This morning I climbed out of bed at 3:42 a.m. to walk under the star-speckled sky to sadhana, the traditional Kundalini-Sikh morning practice. Prayer in a language not my own, a yoga set, meditations for 62 minutes.

The sun rose outside the windows. The hills were painted in blue. The lake still at that hour, everything in its right place.

They say that if you sleep during the meditations, they penetrate deeper because you have fewer defenses erected to block truth from seeping in. I lay on my yoga mat, wrapped in blankets, my eyes closed to the moment, my heart open to the world.

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